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DIY gold magnolia garland and surviving a deserted island

I made this gold magnolia leaf garland from a very rare breed of magnolia tree which grows the most incredible solid gold leaves!

Or, I just spray-painted regular magnolia leaves with gold spray paint. One of those things.

There’s just nothing a can of gold spray paint can’t accomplish in this world. Send me to a deserted island and I’ll bring a can of gold spray paint.

I’d also like to bring chocolate, my Bible and some sunscreen. And a volleyball I’ll name Wilson which I’ll become strangely attached to, and probably lose in some heart-wrenching scene that makes people cry even though it’s JUST a volleyball, guys. I’d also like to bring a satellite phone and a helicopter. But that’d probably be cheating. What kind of weird hypothetical situation did we get ourselves in already?! Things get out of hand so quickly around here.

(As a huge fan of survival shows, Andy read this post and had to stop at this point and talk about what I should REALLY bring on a deserted island. He was distressed to hear I hadn’t even considered a multi-tool OR duct tape.)

Let’s talk about how to make a gold magnolia garland.

Materials you’ll need

  • A few magnolia branches
  • Can of gold spray paint (I used this kind because I had it on hand.) (Affiliate links)
  • Wired twine, like this. (I got mine from Michaels. You might be able to use regular twine, but your garland shape wouldn’t be as sturdy.)
  • Floral wire

Take your branches out in the yard and just spray the green side with spray paint.
Spray painting magnolia leaves
While it dries, hang your wired twine where you want the garland to go. I stuck mine in the bottom of the mantel with a thumbtack.
How to hang garland on a mantel
Now grab three magnolia leaves of roughly the same size and wrap the ends together with floral wire. You can see I missed some spots with my spray painting, but I actually like the hints of green. I’m cool with it.
Gold magnolia leaves
Now attach that fan of leaves to the twine with more floral wire. We also put a little hot glue on the wire just to keep the leaves in place, but you may not need it if you’re working with a shorter garland length.
How to make DIY magnolia garland
Now add another fan of leaves, overlapping the first by a bit, and continue until your entire length of twine is covered.
DIY garland with magnolia leaves
I think we used about 20 little fans of three magnolia leaves each.

I think this would look amazing and dramatic going down a staircase, all the way to the floor and pooling at the floor. We have two children who would FIND AND ATTACK any garland they could reach, so I couldn’t do that. I just put a little bit swagged on my staircase.
I also think this would be amazing if you turned some of the leaves over, so you can see the pretty leathery brown backs. I meant to do that and forgot. Ah well.
How to make gold garland! So simple, textural and festive for the holidays!

Are you making anything with live greenery this year? What would you bring to a deserted island?

Let's connect


  1. makes me wish i had a magnolia tree! i can’t spray paint my dead fallen maple leaves. plus they are under snow and ice. it’s stunning, my friend!

  2. I love this. especially it on your stairs and in your entryway. it goes perfect in your home!

  3. I love this- thanks for the tutorial!! My magnolia trees had better watch out- I’m coming for them!! I think this would be so pretty swagged around a front door or windows. Or in wreath form! So many possibilities!

  4. Looks SO amazing! Love those leaves!

  5. This is SO pretty! Gold spray paint is a gift from heaven! And, I ALWAYS cry when Wilson floats away. I can’t help myself!

  6. Turning them over is a great idea. I bet the mix of the tan leathery look with the gold is so pretty! Love the all gold look too!

  7. Fabulous–it looks amazing! I don’t have any magnolia trees; I wonder if dead grass spray painted gold would look as fancy?

  8. If only I had a mangolia tree because your garland is stunning!

  9. Love it!! and even though this was about the garland, I really cannottttt get over the amount of sass coming straight from that reindeer next to your console table. His ribbon to the side screams “i’m santa’s fashion consultant” and I loveeee it haha

  10. Brilliant! Love how you are making all this fun stuff with free leaves! I would definitely bring gold spray paint too. 😛

  11. I think a magnolia tree is pretty much the most perfect tree out there. We decorated with magnolia limbs at our wedding. My Grandmother says her tree is still ‘skimpy’ 12 years later. I may have used quite a few???
    What I would take to a deserted island: bug spray and ‘How To Get Off Deserted Island for Dummies’.

    • That’s pretty smart. You’re probably the kind of person who would wish for more wishes too.

      • Nope. I would only need one wish. I would ask for a magic wand. Soooo I wouldn’t need extra wishes!
        Well, I might ask for the ability to fly. Two wishes.

        And a puppy.

  12. Ohhhh, me likey! Although I think I’d prefer a real gold bearing tree…..

  13. This turned out beautifully! I’m right there with you, gold spray paint is a staple!

  14. Gretchen P says:

    So glad your caring hubby set you straight on your deserted island list! 😉 The garland is lovely and the green just gives depth, right?

    Also, here is a long overdue thanks for sharing your plate hanging trick! I love how my wall turned out, and it certainly saved me when MY caring hubby pointed out the electrical situation! You can take a peek here if you want, and thanks again!

  15. I have a magnolia tree! I also have gold spray paint. *Katie leaves computer to go try this right now.*

  16. This looks SO good! I have a thing for gold magnolia leaves .. perfection!!

  17. Julia@Cuckoo4Design says:

    I’m glad you hubby jumped in there to mention duct tape. That’s a total must I was getting distressed myself 😉
    I want a tool belt that just holds different gold spray paints and lets not forget about glitter gold and then I can walk around a dazzle everything with gold LOL, that said you know I’m with on the gold, right?
    Love your garland!

  18. Are you kidding me? Are you? This garland is hands-down one of the absolute prettiest holiday decor pieces I may have ever seen. And trust me, I see lots. I wish so hard that I had a magnolia tree.

  19. Looks oh so good!!

  20. this is so great! how do you come up with such creative ideas?? and where is a nearby magnolia tree?

  21. I definitely wish I had a magnolia tree so I could do this! It looks absolutely amazing Kelly! Such a great idea!

  22. You seriously have the best plants growing in your yard! Boxwoods, mangolia trees…aaahh! So jealous especially with these beautiful decorations you have come up with!

  23. So pretty! I totally want to paint thing gold now

  24. Obviously, I love the gold-ness of everything. But let’s talk more about this “survival” thing. You should probably also take a can of spray paint. JUST IN CASE. Oh, and Chapstick. Can’t survive without that one.

  25. Just beautiful! I love that these are real leaves!
    I probably would not have added duct tape to the list either, lol. Definitely chocolate though!

    • Let’s ask Andy: for the deserted isle survival thing, would it be worth upgrading to all-weather UV resistant duct tape, a multi-tool, maybe a water still, and…sat phone with solar charger?

      Actually getting back would be a good goal — after using up the can of gold spray paint of course


  26. That’s darn pretty. And one of my worst nightmares is what to bring to a deserted island. If I spell it wrong I could go to a dessert island, and I’d have just as much trouble knowing what to bring there too. Or if I’m lucky I could go to a de-serted island where the desserts are already there.

  27. I love magnolia trees! The gold leaves rock my socks! Such a great inexpensive DIY project!!

  28. I wish I lived in an area overflowing with magnolia trees! They are one of my favorites but don’t grow as well in the PNW. I kinda faked some leaf garland on my dining table with some faux gold leaves from Michaels! Yours are so pretty!!!


  29. Julie Spear says:

    Oh, I am SO envious of you Southerners with your fancy magnolias!! None of our leaves here in the midwest have any meat left on them anymore LOL! and there are only so many gold painted pinecones a person can live with…. So, I guess it’s time to break out the glitter, instead!

  30. Spectacular! And cheap! 2 of my favorite things! LOVE! Life to the full! Melissa

  31. This is such a smart idea.

    Although, in case you didn’t know, it owuld have been a lot easier to just find a gold magnolia tree. I think I saw one in the backyard at my grandma’s.

  32. Hi. What an amazing idea. So creative. I love it. Quick question, I am new to your blog and I apologize if it’s stated somewhere in your blog already, but where is that small white table in the foyer from? I love it. Great blog xoxo

  33. I made my magnolia wreath the same way sans the gold paint! Now that that the leaves are dried maybe it is time to spray paint.

  34. GORGEOUS, Kelly! I stole some magnolia branches from my parents yesterday (ok, well my mom gave it to me…), and if they don’t watch out, they’re totally getting a coat of gold spray paint.

    • O.M.G!!! Of course you made it…should have known better. It’s incredible…and very complex looking to make for my little hands 😉 Thanks for your reply.

  35. Hi there everybody, here every one is sharing these experience, so it’s nice to read this website,
    and I used to pay a visit this blog daily.

  36. Your garland is beautiful. I was wondering how long it took you to make it and how long it lasted inside

  37. Love this! Have a Magnolia tree in my yard and made a garland with the leaves but now I’ll have to try spray painting it in gold! Check out my blog in case you want to see my attempt at your tutorial at some point soon. Thanks for sharing!

  38. Does the gold paint keep them from drying and being brittle and curling?

  39. Found you through Pinterest. Did your leaves curl over time? I’m curious if the spray paint would “preserve” the leaves.


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